27 May 2014

Separating IANA from ICANN, the Internet Governance Project Roadmap for Globalizing IANA

Internet Governance Project Roadmap for globalizing IANA: Four principles and a proposal for reform - pdf available here - excerpts follow:

Four principles to guide IANA contract reform:
1. Keep the IANA function clerical; separate it from policy [ICANN]
2. Don’t internationalize political oversight: end it
3. Align incentives to ensure the accuracy and security of root zone maintenance
4. De­link globalization of the IANA function from broader ICANN policy process reforms

The proposal
"The current IANA contract expires September 30, 2015. This date should be taken as the deadline for globalizing the IANA functions. The Department of Commerce has the authority to relinquish its control by simply walking away from the IANA functions contract when it expires in September 2015 and announcing as a matter of policy that the transition referenced in the 1998 White Paper to NewCo is finished.

"We propose to combine the IANA Functions and the Root Zone Maintainer roles in a new nonprofit corporation, the DNS Authority (DNSA). The DNSA would be exclusively concerned with the IANA functions related to the DNS root zone and associated databases. The IANA functions related to protocol parameters would be moved to the IETF, and the IP address­related functions would be retained by ICANN until such time as new global policies regarding their disposition could be developed.

"The DNSA would be run by a nonprofit consortium of all the firms operating root servers and domain name registries (i.e., all companies with top level domains in the root and root servers), just as some of the early ccTLDs were jointly owned by that country’s registrars. The owners would include generic TLD registries such as Afilias and Verisign, as well as country code TLD registries such as DENIC (Germany) and CNNIC (China). This would make governance of the DNS­related IANA functions highly diverse and globalized. A one registry, one vote structure might best ensure the neutrality of DNSA governance, but other structures (e.g., basing voting shares and financial support on the size of the registry) are worth considering as well. ICANN currently spends about US$ 7 million annually on the IANA functions; Verisign’s expenditures on the Root Zone Maintainer functions are not known but are likely to also be in the low millions. We propose an initial grant from ICANN of about $12 million to support the initial formation and early operation of the DNSA; after that the consortium would have to work out a fee structure for its members to support operations.

"The DNSA would require a binding contract with ICANN regarding the conditions under which it would agree to implement changes in the root zone or other associated databases to reflect policies emerging from ICANN’s policy development processes. The contract should ensure that the DNSA has no policy authority but merely implements valid requests for additions or deletions emerging from ICANN’s policy process. DNSA would promise to abide by ICANN policy directives on the condition that ICANN’s policy decisions related to the root not be used to impose requirements on registries, via registry agreements, to regulate content or otherwise locally lawful behavior of registrants. The existence of this contract would provide the opportunity for developing an additional accountability check on ICANN. For example, if the contract was not in perpetuity but was renewable every five years, diverse entities might compete to replace the existing ICANN as the policy development authority. As for the DNSA, as a private association of incumbent registries, any attempt by it to manipulate root zone management to thwart competition or discriminate against eligible members would be easily challenged by competition law authorities in Europe, the U.S., or elsewhere.

"The initial step for executing this proposal should be a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between multiple principals (governments, businesses, civil society organizations) and the agents (ICANN, and eventually, DNSA)...."

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